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Umax to license Mac OS, Motorola in limbo

The Taiwan-based firm has reportedly reached an agreement with Apple, but Motorola is still left in the lurch.

Umax Computer Company has reportedly reached a licensing agreement with with Apple Computer. Meanwhile, Motorola has been left in the lurch.

In Taiwan, Umax reportedly has already reached agreement with Apple Computer, allowing the clone vendor to use the new Macintosh operating system 8.0.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the licensing spectrum, Apple continues to stymie Motorola. Motorola will not release its StarMax 6000 computer, a long-awaited line based on a new architecture called CHRP. Some have speculated that the cancellation might mean that Motorola is getting out of the clone market all together.

The Umax deal with Apple is expected to result in Umax paying higher licensing fees than in the past. Umax is also expected to concentrate more of its efforts in overseas markets.

Apple effectively halted its licensing program earlier this week when it announced it would buy assets from Power Computing and would not renew any of its current license agreements.

Executives at Apple said that the company has been losing money and market share as a result of the licensing program, which started in earnest in 1996. As a result, Apple said it would not extend its current licensing agreements to cover Macintosh operating system 8.0, the new version of the OS, or any other technology unless the terms could be re-worked to the financial advantage of Apple. Apple vociferously complained that it had been subsidizing clone makers.

"We were subsidizing [each clone computer] with several hundred dollars," said Guerrino De Luca, the executive vice president at Apple who is involved in the licensing project.

Fred Anderson, Apple's acting CEO, said that the company would consider extending a licensing agreement if a clone maker planned on moving into new geographic markets, especially in East Asia. Umax, for its part, has said it wants to focus on international markets.

But this doesn't appear to apply to Motorola. Both Apple and Motorola have said they will continue to negotiate on a license. The prospects, however, could be bleak for a resolution. Apple's new stance has prompted most pundits to declare that the licensing program is dead, Umax's possible deal notwithstanding. In addition, Motorola has not achieved a huge market presence with its clones.

Reuters contributed to this report.